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'Downton Abbey': Cast reflects on final moments, talks movie prospects

'Downton Abbey': Cast reflects on final moments, talks movie prospects
From left, "Masterpiece" executive producer Rebecca Eaton, actors Joanne Froggatt, Michelle Dockery, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Laura Carmichael, Penelope Wilton and executive producer Gareth Neame speak onstage during the "Downton Abbey" panel discussion at the PBS portion of the 2015 Summer TCA Tour. (Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images)

Grab your handkerchief: There are just two weeks of production left on "Downton Abbey." Like, ever.

The British drama that helped buttoned-up PBS roll up its sleeves to mainstream popularity is getting closer to bidding adieu. And like the good ol' Dowager Countess, we can only muster a facial expression of incredulity as we hold on to our cane for support.

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The sixth and final season will premiere stateside Jan. 3 on PBS. And just a few days before, on New Year's Day, the period drama will be memorialized with a float in the 2016 Rose Parade.

But before all the definitive goodbyes get underway, some of the cast gathered Saturday in Beverly Hills for the show's final panel at the Television Critics Assn. press tour. Talk of "favorites" and "lasts" was abundant. And fresh.

As we mentioned, there are just two weeks left of shooting (note: almost everyone will wrap in the final week), but filming at the mother ship, Highclere Castle, has already wrapped.

"That was quite an interesting day," said Hugh Bonneville, who plays family patriarch Robert Crawley.

Laura Carmichael, who plays the often-ignored sister Edith Crawley, added: "It was strange saying goodbye to Highclere Castle because it felt like in a split second it wasn't our home anymore."

Michelle Dockery, who portrays golden daughter Mary Crawley, said she and Carmichael wandered around and sat on Matthew's bench: "We had a bit of a cry."

Bonneville, meanwhile, was surprised the cast even got another go-round.

"We were all expecting to finish after Series 5. Julian said he felt it would feel a bit truncated, so he asked if we would do another nine episodes," the actor said, referring to series creator Julian Fellowes.

Executive producer Gareth Neame added, "Maybe we're leaving a little bit early, but I think on a high note."

Wait, hey guys, what about a movie? As with most beloved shows that come to an end, talk of a movie is never too far away. And Neame didn't rule it out.

"We might -- it's something we've talked about," he said. "I think a 'Downton' movie would be a wonderful thing. But we don't have a script or a plan as of yet."

Before all you "Downton" fans start penning a script, dig through these highlights from the panel:

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-- A refrigerator is coming! And of course, Mrs. Patmore hates it.

-- "Downton Abbey" might have made some dig up their history notes of the era, but Bonneville learned something else from the show: "One thing I've learned from the show is that the only people who smoke cigarettes are up to no good."

-- Executive producer Neame said the final season will be "reflective of all six seasons. Deceased characters continue to be referenced."

-- Neame also said that if "Downton Abbey" had made it to Season 7 or Season 8, they might have made it to the 1929 stock market crash: "I don't know if I could bear to see [Robert Crawley] go through a financial disaster."

-- Elizabeth McGovern, who plays matriarch Cora Crawley, said the serenity of being wrapped up in the non-modern world: "I'll miss the peace of it. In today's world, we're so inundated with information." Oh, and she'll miss being on a hit TV show, she joked.

-- What thing from the set do they want to take with them?

Joanne Froggatt (Anna): "The only souvenir I want to take home is Lady Mary, really -- and Mr. Bates."

Carmichael: "I want to take home the set of the newspaper office."

Bonneville: "I want to take home one of the mustard pots from the dining room."

I tweet about TV (and other things) here: @villarrealy

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